A tongue-in-cheek but also painfully earnest look at pop culture and anything else that deserves to be ridiculed while at the same time regarded with the utmost respect. It is written by Matt Marrone and emailed to Stu Horvath and David Shimomura, who add any typos or factual errors that might appear within.
A little more than 13 years ago, I wrote right here about being an Xbox polygamist. In it, I had a lot to say about Ysolda, my Skyrim wife.
Well, all these years later, I have married Ysolda again.
Yes, that’s right. It’s a new year. Time for new beginnings. Resolutions. Moving forward. For me, that means replaying a game I once loved because it was available, at a deep discount and with extra features, for the Nintendo Switch. In many ways, my exploits in Skyrim remain the greatest achievements of my pathetic little life. You can’t go back to, say, high school, but you can most certainly go back to Skyrim.
So, where’s the new beginning? For one, the Switch is portable, so I can play Skyrim on the toilet, if I so choose. Progress! The other new beginning would be that I would approach the game differently. There are so many ways to play that this goal should have been a piece of cake to achieve. Somehow, though, I ended up as a Nord again. Ok, that’s fine. I wanted to use “Einstok” as my name – go Icelandic beer! – and I love the burly, shaved head and beard look.
The big test, I thought, would be when it came time to marry. Not marrying Aela the Huntress was a regret from my original playthrough; when we first locked eyes at Jorrvaskr and she immediately insulted me, I could feel the sparks flying.
And then I went down to the Whiterun market and . . . I saw Ysolda again. All of our great times came rushing back – mainly her giving me gold from her store’s profits and calling me “my love” over and over again. As a married man in real life, this unwavering devotion was a total turn-on. In a near daze, and more quickly that I had ever imagined, I found myself in Riften, making preparations for our wedding.
Oh no. I had to do something. I had to throw Ysolda a curveball. So, I adopted a girl. Lucia is a sweet thing, and she sat in the front row at our wedding. She was so excited to have a dad, and even more so a mom, to take her to the market and promise to teach her how to make pies. And one other thing: This time, humble Breezehome wasn’t going to be enough for my new family. I went all out and bought Ysolda and Lucia the more expensive Tundra Homestead.
“This house . . . it’s perfect!” Ysolda tells me every time I see her. Again, the devotion. Misplaced devotion. Because, let’s face it, the house is quite often attacked by Cultists or Zombies or Dragons. For a time, there was a Zombie I’d slain lying face down next to Lucia’s bed. Fortunately, he disappeared eventually. But it wasn’t a good look.
And so, I continued my questing, coming and going as I pleased, with no questions asked. Ysolda was always happy to see me, excited that her love was back from another great adventure, happy to hand over my share of her profits. It was all too perfect. So, I figured it was time to throw Ysolda another curveball.
One beautiful Skyrim morning, I walked into Riften, strolled over to the Honorhall Orphanage, savagely murdered Grelod the Kind, and adopted a second child, Samuel. Lucia had a brother! Ysolda now had two kids to raise, essentially on her own, plus a business to run! And she was happy as ever.
The fresh air is great for the kids, she’d tell me, and repeat that the house was perfect. It was, clearly, time to move.
I’d bought homes in Riften and Markarth at this point, plus I was the leader of the Companions, a member of the Thieves Guild and a student at both the College of Winterhold and the Bards College, so I was basically able to sleep wherever I wanted, whenever I wanted. But after one particular battle, I’d won a pretty awesome bachelor pad called Hendraheim. If anything, it’s more of a vacation home – like a hunting lodge – but I moved the wife and kids out there anyway. And guess what? The house is perfect, I’m told. And the fresh air is doing wonders for the kids.
Now, I’m back to questing across the countryside. I’m looking forward to buying new homes and moving the wife and kids around some more, perhaps. But even if I don’t visit them for days, weeks, months – choosing instead to level up and behead enemies with Chrysamere, my current weapon of choice – they’ll be just as happy to see me when I get back.
Aela the Warrior? I still have no idea what being married to her would be like. I assume she’d follow me into battle, which you’d have to give her credit for. But would that acerbic attitude go away? I’m not sure I’d want it to. So, again, we’re just friends.
Ysolda, it’s always been you.
Matt Marrone is a senior MLB editor at ESPN.com. He has been Unwinnable’s reigning Rookie of the Year since 2011. You can follow him on Twitter @thebigm.